For most dog owners, Spring is better known as canine mud season. For whatever reason, tons of dogs love the muck! And unless you plan on keeping them indoors this time of year, you're going to need some clever strategies for managing the dirty paws that come with warmer months.
Here are our top tips for dealing with your mud-loving pooch:
Trim the Fur
If you're not quite ready to do the summer haircut, at least trim any areas where the hair tends to drag on the ground. Professional groomers suggest at a minimum getting the fur around your pup’s paws trimmed so the mud doesn't clump or mat into them. Keeping a dog’s coat well-maintained and free from knots makes cleanup much easier. A good habit to adopt all year round is keeping your dog’s paws and nails trimmed on a regular basis.
Stop Mud Before It Comes In
While it's great to see your dog having fun running around in the muddy backyard, the dirty paws traipsing through the house are not as enjoyable. Here are a few things to try to reduce mud from making its way inside.
Place washable mats inside and outside any door your dog uses. Make sure they’re big enough so that each paw hits them at least once—you'll catch a lot of the mud and those little rocks that cling to it.
Keep a dry towel or chamois just inside the doorway and use it to clean off the remaining mud. If there's more than can be handled by the towel, keep a bucket or lidded container of warm water with the towel and before your dog comes inside, remove the dirt by dipping each paw into the water and then gently wiping it dry.
Doggie boots for indoors or out guarantee the mud stays off your floors, carpeting, and furniture.
Consider a dog paw cleaner or washing cup. There are different models available, but all these low-tech solutions have a large opening for your dog’s paw and built-in clean and dirty water reservoirs. Don’t forget to praise your pup for patiently sitting through the process.
You can also try restricting your dog’s access to muddy places. The best way to do this is by fencing off areas like flower beds and laying down mulch or pebbles in areas of the yard where water may cause muddy conditions.
Once Your Dog’s in The House
There are going to be those times when even your best efforts to stop the mud at the door are thwarted. If your dog is allowed on the furniture—and let's face it, who doesn't want to snuggle with their favorite pooch?—a great way to keep the place neat and tidy is to put lightweight, washable blankets on beds, couches, chairs, and in the dog bed. Another good choice is those quick-drying microfiber travel towels. They’re super soft and available in a variety of sizes and colors.
As tempting as it might be, resist the urge to bathe your dog every time she or he gets muddy. Too much shampooing can cause irritation and skin problems while stripping your dog’s coat of its important oils. Instead, once you've dried their fur and removed as much dirt and mud as possible, use a brush to get the stuff that's buried down deep.
Finally, and this may seem obvious, but a good broom, mop, and vacuum nearby can ensure any stray bits of dirt and mud are cleaned up as soon as they appear. Spring might be messy, but these tips should help you and your 4-legged pride and joy enjoy the season!